'We're happy to be here' - Pre-match mind games begin as All Whites touch down in Peru

New Zealand's footballers are settling into Lima after a chaotic journey to South America. Source: 1 NEWS


PSG's Champions League demolition of Red Star Belgrade investigated for match fixing

French authorities are investigating claims of match-fixing surrounding a Champions League match between Paris Saint-Germain and Red Star Belgrade after UEFA warned them of a possible manipulation of the result.

L'Equipe newspaper reported that a Red Star official is suspected of betting 5 million euros (NZ$8.9 million) on Red Star losing by five goals. PSG won the game 6-1.

France's financial prosecutor's office told The Associated Press an investigation has been opened, but declined to comment on the report.

Red Star released a statement vehemently denying the match-fixing allegation, saying no club official was involved in the alleged "shameful acts."

According to L'Equipe, the prosecutor's office was alerted by UEFA days before the Oct. 3 game at the Parc des Princes.

ARJEL, the body in charge of regulating online gambling in France, told the newspaper it did not notice any suspicious bets on the game.

PSG forward Neymar Neymar celebrates after scoring the opening goal of his team during the Champions League Group C soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and Red Star at Parc des Prince stadium in Paris, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
PSG forward Neymar Neymar celebrates after scoring. Source: Associated Press



'I'm just here to train' - Usain Bolt plays down footballing career after breakthrough goals

Usain Bolt doesn't consider himself a footballer yet and doubts remain over his ability to earn an A-League contract with Central Coast, despite bagging his first brace.

Playing as a striker, Bolt scored two second half goals for the Mariners in their 4-0 win over Macarthur South West United at Campbelltown Sports Stadium in Sydney last night.

His impressive first goal came from a strong run and fierce finish and the second was a tap into an empty goal following a collision between Macarthur's goalkeeper and a defender.

Asked if would call himself a footballer, legendary track athlete Bolt said: "until I sign (a contract), I'm not saying that."

While Bolt and Mariners coach Mike Mulevy were pleased with his performance, doubts linger over whether he can improve enough to secure a contract.

His fitness is certainly better, but his ball control and on-field vision are patchy and Bolt himself concedes they are the two poorest aspects of his game.

With the A-League starting next week, Bolt is hoping the Mariners will soon provide some clarity on his prospects at the club.

"The season is coming up now, so we have to sit down after this game and figure out what we're going to do but until then, I'm just here to train and to continue,"' Bolt said.

Bolt said he definitely felt ready to play in the A-League if required, but Mulvey reiterated it could still be a while before a decision is made on whether the Jamaican gets a contract.

'I think we're all in agreement that we'll look about January," Mulvey said.

With the youth league not starting until next month and Bolt unlikely to be considered ready for A-League duty just yet, that leaves the issue of where he will get games over the next few weeks.

Mulvey didn't shed any light on that topic.

'I don't know how that's going to work, but my main mission is Brisbane next week, October 21," Mulvey said, referring to the Mariners first-round A-League game.

Mulvey praised Bolt for the insights he had passed on to the club's youngsters and the global exposure the Mariners and the region had received because of his presence.



Watch: Former Olympic champ Usain Bolt scores first goal as quest continues to become pro footballer

Olympic track great Usain Bolt's fledgling football career has received a boost after he scored two second-half goals for Central Coast Mariners, but the club look likely to wait until next year to decide whether he's worthy of an A-League contract.

The Jamaican led the Mariners' line in a central striking role in their 4-0 thrashing of A-League aspirants Macarthur South West United on Friday.

Until his brace, Bolt wasn't always convincing with his finishing, possession or passing.

But in the 55th minute he held off a defender before racing onto Ross McCormack's through-ball and beating the goalkeeper at the near post with a fierce left-foot strike.

He promptly produced his famous lightning bolt celebration.

"It was brilliant, it takes all the weight off your shoulders that first goal to relax you," Bolt said afterwards.

Just over ten minutes later, he doubled his tally when he capitalised on a defensive mix-up to pounce on a loose ball and practically walk it into an open goal.

Almost 6000 fans turned out at Campbelltown Sports Stadium and the crowd gave Bolt plenty of support whenever he touched the ball, especially one enthusiastic horn blower.

"I think I did pretty well, I'm happy with the progress I'm making," the Jamaican said.

"My positioning is much better, I think I'm doing much more in space, I'm running in space much better."

Bolt was adamant he would be ready if required for the opening round of the A-League next week.

But Mariners coach Mike Mulvey reiterated that January was still the most likely time when the club would make a decision on their famous triallist.

"You can't just react to something that's happened in front of us right now,' Mulvey said.

"He covered himself in glory tonight and I think that everybody is super pleased for him ... you've got to take your hat off to him.

"He scored a couple of goals tonight - he's still got a long way to go."

Bolt's fitness and heading were definitely better than on Friday than his last public appearance, but his ball control needs to improve.

"My controlling the ball, and seeing the field, having better vision, are my two worst areas but they have improved a lot since I've been here. But they could improve a lot more."

As early as the second minute, he broke clear but lost the ball before getting into the Macarthur box.

In the 23rd minute, Bolt regained the ball in the penalty area after losing it, but his close-range effort took a deflection off a defender and was comfortably saved.

He came close again in the 39th minute in his best moment of the first half.

The 195cm Jamaican made a well-timed run into the box and beat his marker to firmly head Tommy Oar's left-wing cross, but it was directed just outside the post.

Bolt also spent a minute of the first half on the ground in pain after being struck in the groin by the ball.

After his goals he was eventually substituted in the 75th minute.


Phoenix confirm signing of ex-Real Madrid youngster Mandi

The Wellington Phoenix have confirmed their second signing in as many days, unveiling Spanish midfielder Mandi as their final overseas player for the upcoming season.

Mandi, whose full name is Armando Sosa Pena, 29, joins having recently played for Spanish second division side Almeria, but has also spent time playing for Real Madrid's Castilla side, playing alongside the likes of Alvaro Morata, Dani Carvajal and Lucas Vazquez.

The defensive midfielder has been on trial with the club since September, taking part in their tour of Sydney, and joins yesterday's addition Max Burgess on the Phoenix's roster.

Mandi becomes the fourth and final overseas player on the Phoenix's roster, with goalkeeper Filip Kurto, defender Steven Taylor, and midfielder Michal Kopczynski already on the club's books.

Striker Roy Krishna is also considered an overseas player, although is awaiting a decision having applied for New Zealand citizenship.

In a media release, Mandi spoke of his excitement at both joining the Phoenix, as well as living in Wellington.

"I felt like something new and I like New Zealand and what I have seen," he said.

"Not only will I be living in a beautiful country but I will be playing in the A-League which I think will be a big challenge given the quality of the players here."

Coach Mark Rudan welcomed Mandi's arrival, saying:

"I watched him when I was in Europe and he will complement our defensive structure in the middle of the park.

"He is another player that will work extremely hard for the team and gives their all on the pitch so he will slot in perfectly.

"He is not only a defensive rock but also possesses leadership qualities having captained teams he's played for."

The Phoenix play their first match of the new A-League season against the Newcastle Jets on October 21.

New Phoenix signing Mandi
New Phoenix signing Mandi Source: Elche CF